Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Night Physics

Tonight's edition will be short and to the point. It also features Iron Man again. It's becoming readily apparent to me that most of my Engineering rants will focus on Tony's engineering works, because if we break down the various comic book universes (at least the ones that I follow), we see the following pattern

DC Universe - Very little technical content, focusing mostly on "cosmic powers" and silver age science that is sometimes incredibly dodgy. More mythic and cosmic stuff than down-to-earth actual engineering

Wildstorm Universe - There's a bit more science here, what with everything Warren Ellis contributed to that corner of the universe. Plus Astro City and Ex Machina, which occassionally feature some material worthy of addressing. But it takes a lot of dragging through all the "Bleed-tech" this and "Kherubim-tech" that in order to find the meat.

Dark Horse - Pretty much no science and all magic here.

Marvel Universe- Tony Stark does build everything. Oh, Reed and Doom have higher technology, but at the level where we consistently see their developments, and to the extent that the technology is basic to apply and at least understandable, the Marvel Universe Earth's technology is 9/10ths Tony Stark.

By the way, if there are any contributions, you the reader, would like to suggest for future Friday Night Physics, put'em in the comments.

With that out of the way, let's move on to our subject, pictured below:

Iron Man's Power-Generating Roller Skates

OK, yes, this would work. Sort of.

Let's get the first line out of the way: A Transistor is not a power source, it's a means ot controlling the flow of power. The phrase "Transistor-powered" only really makes sense if you take it as similar to the idea that your computer is powered by "Intell Centrino Duo Core". If that works for you, fine. But your processor doesn't power your computer, and as long as you understand that, we can leave it at that.

The biggest issue here is the idea that he can use the rollerskates to recharge his armor The answer is yes, but only under certain circumstances. First, you have to realize that in order to generate actual energy, the wheels would have to be outfitted with a power generation mechanism (not unlike those toy cars kids that you could rub on the ground until they got enough power in them to take off on their own). The problem with this is that this mechanism would make it harder to turn the wheels, and Tony would thus have to push much harder in order to move. Which is fine if he isn't in a hurry to get anywhere, but it's not so helpful if, say, there's an Avengers emergency going on. In other instances where he's used skates, they've had rockets on them (one assumes a solid fuel mix, as that would be the most efficient in terms of space) in order to propell himself forward, which would solve this particular problem.
Another issue to consider is whether he could generate a significant amount of power from the skates. Consider that according to Tony's thought balloon there, he can recharge his entire armor by skating around town, and we are talking about 200 lbs of armor with repulsor rays, a uni-beam, jet boots, and whatever else Tony has crammed in there (one assumes a mini-bar, at the very least). That's a lot of power he needs, and when you consider that you need a fairly large wind turbine to power an average house, I'm less than confident that he could recharge after a 20 minute stroll. On the other hand, one imagines with all that skating he's done with the extra weight and resistance from the power generation mechanisms, he'd have some serious buns of steel. So, I guess Tony's willing to suffer in order to give the ladies what they want.


Anonymous said...

How about the Sentinels?

Or, sticking with the Iron Man theme, why not some of his custom armors, like the Hulkbuster or Thor armor?

And how did an entire suit fit inside that briefcase without making it really heavy?

MrCynical said...

"How about the Sentinels?"

The Sentinels are quite possibly the most ineffective giant killer robots in history. Up until Grant Morrison's first story in "New X-Men", I can't think of a single mutant killed by the Sentinels outside of an Exiles/alternate reality story or "Days of Future Past". Seriously, up until "E is for Extinction" I think there have been more on-panel mutant killings by random mobs than by Sentinels.

I won't even look at the Thor armor because, by definition, it's magic. There also isn't too much to say about most of the custom IM armors, but I might take a look at it from time to time.

The Briefcase one is actually a decent question, and I might address it.

Thanks for your comments